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Phantom of the Opera

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews
Article Date: January 1, 2005 | Publication: Prime Time | Author: Bob Polunsky

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"Phantom of the Opera" lives up to its Broadway reputation of a well-staged horror film that capitalizes on suspense with vibrant music. It's arty, but that gives it style.
Exaggerated acting styles and frequent changes from color to black-and-white are arty enough to make this version look different from previous versions. Andrew Lloyd Weber's music puts all the emotions of the characters in perspective. So do the staging, camera angles, costuming and exaggerated reactions that tell the story with camera closeups to make you feel part of the picture.
You won't know most of the actors so you won't be able to compare their performances to anything they've done before. You may recognize Minnie Driver's face, but you won't be prepared to see her as Carlotta, the opera's temperamental lead singer and the Phantom's primary victim. He wants her out of the way so his protˇgˇe, Christine (Emmy Rossum), can take over her job.
Gerard Butler makes a strong impression as the menacing Phantom who lives in the caves underneath the Paris Opera House. He sneaks out (yes, that's the right word) through secret passageways to frighten the opera's staff, encourage Christine's singing career and compete with Raoul (Patrick Wilson) for her affections. His mask doesn't hide his feelings. You can see them on his face and through his actions, thanks to Weber's emotional score.
The most elaborate musical number is "Music of the Night" that the Phantom sings to Christine. Like the other music numbers, it is filmed in close up to help us understand what the characters are experiencing.
Very inventive cinematography shows an elaborate chandelier falling into the midst of an opera audience and also sets the stage for the Masked Ball sequence when the Phantom appears and shocks other guests with his presence. The underground chase scene when the Phantom corners Raoul is as exciting as a military maneuver in a war picture, mainly because it, too, is filmed in closeup.
All these sequences have been memorably staged in previous versions, but this one uses vibrant, emotional music to make you feel you're in the picture experiencing everything along with the characters.


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